The United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has warned citizens in Nigeria on the likely fallout of the Naira crisis rocking the West African country.
In its money advisory update on the naira scarcity posted on its website, the UK FCDO advised its citizens in Nigeria to take precautions when visiting banks and automated teller machines (ATMs) in the country, as there have been a “spike in criminal activities” in such places.
“Nigeria is mainly a cash economy, although the use of credit and debit cards is increasing – especially in the big cities,” the update reads.
“If you intend to use cash, make sure you bring enough foreign currency to cover costs. It is illegal to change money on the street and travellers cheques are difficult to cash.
“Credit card fraud is common, so take care if using your card. You should take advice from your card issuer before travelling if you intend to use your credit or debit card in Nigeria.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has directed the redesign and issue of new N200, N500, and N1,000 naira notes. This has led to shortages of cash, which are likely to persist for a period.
“You are encouraged to check notes provided by currency exchange vendors will be valid for the duration of your travel to Nigeria, and to follow local CBN guidelines.
“Areas such as banks and ATMs have seen a spike in criminal activity, and as such, it is advised that you take extra precautions particularly when withdrawing cash in crowded spaces, and during night time hours.
“There have been outbreaks of violence in southwest Nigeria as a result of cash shortages, and there is a risk of other urban areas being impacted across the country.”
Therefore, the UK government further urged travellers in Nigeria to “exercise their judgement, including being aware of any large crowds or potential disturbances”.
The advisory comes amid protests and vandalisation of financial institutions across states over the scarcity of new naira notes.
In a national broadcast earlier today, President Muhammadu Buhari had said the old N500 and N1,000 notes are no longer legal tenders.
However, he said the old N200 note will remain legal tender until April 10 when they will cease to be valid.
Buhari issued the directives despite a ruling in a case filed by some states challenging the naira redesign policy, in which the supreme court restrained the federal government from restricting the use of the old naira notes pending the determination of the suit.